I Am The Worst Batman

I’m standing on a platform, looking down into a crowd of thugs cheering on Two-Face to execute Catwoman. My objective is to clear the room to save the feline damsel who hardly seems distressed. There’s one thug in the room who is armed, and I would have to take him out before attempting anything else. A box pops up on the screen advising me to do so. "OK!" I think to myself, as I dive face-first into the crowd... without taking out the armed man.

What ensues is a frantic struggle to fight off thugs while bullets come pelting my way. I use the grappling hook to raise myself back onto the platform, spot the gunman, knock him over but fail to take him out, he picks up his gun and resumes shooting at me. I drop back onto the ground and flail around, use the grappling hook to fly back up, drop back down, find the gunman, take him out, then find myself back on the ground. Apparently, I’m Batman, but Batman would never have done any of those things.

I am a Batman fan, but my love for him and his universe makes me the worst Batman.

My love affair with The Dark Knight began upon the discovery of the graphic novel version of Batman Returns. As a child I read it every day, cross-referencing panels with the film itself and assessing the accuracy of facial expressions. This proceeded to the almost-daily viewings of Batman Forever and Batman and Robin on VHS, supplemented by whatever comics I could get my hands on. The animated series came next as I sat in front of the television, wide-eyed and completely mesmerised by the creation of Harley Quinn and the rebooted re-telling of how Two-Face became disfigured. I later discovered the darker, grittier and haunting graphic novels of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

The richness of the Batman universe made it a thing worthy of study, and I studied it like the best subject that my school never offered. I came to understand the characters, and the more I learned the more real they became, like historical figures who existed in a parallel universe.

But the more I knew about Batman, the less I could be Batman. Where I could play any other game and just role-play a new character who I knew little about, I knew Batman too well. I knew where he came from, what he had to do to become a masked vigilante with super responsibility, and I even knew who he had the hots for; rather than feel empowered, this knowledge crippled me.

Perhaps it’s a testament to the authenticity of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City that as I ran through the asylum itself in the first game and then through the city in the second, I was struck with a real sense of fear that I was in a place run by genuine psychopaths: the villains had been illustrated so well in other Batman texts that I understood what they were capable of, and their depiction in Rocksteady’s Arkham-verse was so vivid and accurate that I couldn’t help but feel that they were capable of anything. I kept expecting Batman to swoop in and save the day before remembering that it was now my responsibility to save the city -- me, a person with about as much ninja training as a can of beans.

In the first 10 minutes of Arkham City I played as Bruce Wayne -- I had no Bat suit, no gadgets, and for the most part my character looked like an ordinary person with a chunky neck. In these early moments of the game when Bruce wasn’t Batman, I felt somewhat in-tune with the character; my clumsiness with the controls almost seemed excusable in the context that I was just playing an ordinary man. Upon donning the Bat suit, every wall I ran into was a reminder that I was doing something that Batman would not do; that I lacked the grace and dexterity of the caped crusader. Batman was on loan to me and I was making him look really dopey.

As each game progressed, I had to train myself in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City to remember that it was just a game and that the fate of Gotham City wasn’t really at stake; I had to try and separate reality from fiction. For now, the authenticity and engrossing world of Batman: Arkham City has me hooked. I can only hope that Batman is OK with me running him into a few more walls.


Comments

    I haven't played City but I loved how in Asylum batman's outfit got more and more scratched and damaged. I kind of felt like all the damage was my fault.

      Suit damage is very much present in Arkham City. Though it seems to be scripted, rather than player-input based.

        its actually scripted in the first one aswell

          I thought so, but could be quite sure from memory.

            It would be insane to have it dynamic! It'd be technically possible, but it wouldn't really be appropriate considering you're playing a scripted story :)

          I recognised it was scripted but - Molydeux would be proud - I was talking about the emotional impact on me.

            Resident Evil 2 did the same thing. Really enjoyed it there too. Good to see the story having an impact on the character even it was scripted.

              Don't forget PoP: Sands of Time. Although in that case it was about as subtle as a car crash.

                *cough*TheThirdBirthdayorParasiteEve(Ican'trememberwhich)*cough*

                  Shadow Of The Colossus, Wander's appearance got more filthy and torn up as the game progressed, showing the toll the quest was taking on him.

      I also liked how his facial stubble got more and more as the game progressed. Was a cool little touch.

        ***SPOILERS***

        After Joker poisons Bats in AC, you see poisoned-looking dark vein things slowly appearing on Bats' face from under the mask, which are then showed off to Talia later.

        ***END SPOILERS***

    I feel your pain, all the 'ghost punching' ive done as batman looks so embarasing, but i get some satisfaction when i pull off 15x + combos

    I like how batman just goes psycho and desperate in AC. He started doing things that I wouldn't expect from him. I was all like "what have you become?" it really shines through how desperate he is.

    And the villains really genuinely scare me in that game. Capable of anything, and completely unpredictable. Unlike the first game when all you had to do was deal with the Jocker, whose only goal is to screw with batman. All these other villains are very different. And you can tell.

    When you get things right, Arkham Asylum/City really make you feel like the Dark Knight. Stuff up, though, and you feel incredibly stupid. Nothing makes me feel worse than seeing Bats loosing a punch into thin air while half a dozen thugs are surrounding him.

    Also,
    You have one missed call.

    Another thing - I want my DLC skins from the beginning! I want to be Old Man Wayne (Dark Knight Returns).

    I would've pictures you more as a Riddler anyway Tracey because you're always tricking and Lien to me.

    I'm so sorry.

      Lien is actually pronounced like in the word "alien". But nice try. :P

        Oh I knew that, but I just went for it anyway. Leap of faith of you will.

    hahaha that's how i felt playing space marine.. Elite Warriors - the emperors chosen.. and here i was swinging a chainsword at a wall...

    *facepalm*

    Yep, I did the same during the Two-Face/Catwoman section.

    Batman Returns graphic novel? Oh my, that was great!

    My biggest hurdle at the moment is the change in combat mechanics. I am probably playing too much like Batman in Arkham Asylum, but I can't do combos anymore. My trick (cheat?) was to jump and vault over thugs and keep the combo going. That seems to have been changed.

    Furthermore, the Critical Strike upgrade I thought would help me, but it keeps saying 'Too Soon...' during the brawl.

    I understand it's a timing mishap on my part but wanted to know if anybody else has had the same trouble?

      The jump-over-baddies and cape-stun seems to keep the combo up as per Asylum, from what I can tell. The timing for critical strikes can be a little awkward at first, as it is less about timing each hit as it is building a rhythm for the combo.

      Almost every gadget can be used to combo as well.

        The bat-claw into clothesline is my favourite so far. Though the explosive gel has come in handy a few times.

        Ta. I think I need to watch thugs' animations as well as the 'COUNTER ME NOW' tells.

        See, if two of them show the tells at the same time you are instructed to repeatedly mash the Counter button so Bats takes them both on simultaneously.

          My main problem is attempting to counter when nobody is trying to hit me XD

          It's really more of a double tap.
          The double takedown animation is long, try to time the next strike just after it finishes

    I'd put a spoiler warning in.
    That opening sequence was a pleasant surprise.

      Indeed it was a pleasant surprise. That whole intro was awesome.

    I'm Batman.....

    I have an idea how to solve this. Batman is the most competent character in all fiction, and would never take orders from anyone. So at the start of the game, when you move the joystick to try to make him move, he should turn, look at the camera, say "I've got this", then run off and finish the game himself.

      Yes! This! It feels like I should just let him do everything because he totally knows what he's doing! Instead I have this controller in my hand and I'm just derping around.

        Or make us play as Robin, and have Batman always correcting our mistakes and berating us. Because he's the goddamn Batman.

          Haha, that is an awesome idea. If I were Robin I'd just skip around town and Batman could teach me the ropes!

    Spoiler warning the opening, Tracey!

      See!!! ;)

      Btw, Dumbledore DIES.

        Yeah. Sure.

        That's what they said about Gandalf.

    So maybe it is a good idea to get the guys in hockey masks to play batman by the sounds of it.

    Since you didn't specify, I'm just going to go ahead and assume you don't mean a can of ninja-beans...

    I actually like that my Batman 'screws up' in Arkham. Like, obviously when Batman is portrayed in comics and TAS he is always portrayed as like, disappearing out of a window and Gordon's like: "I hate it when he does that!" But in AC you actually have to jump out of that window and then like, make your way across town. It shows a sort of 'reality' to Bats that I think makes him more relatable and less mythic, which I enjoy. Great article, however- food for thought!

    You rock Tracey!

    Inb4 Chazz complains about spoilers yet again.

    I mean, I can understand a few punches whiffing through open air and a 'nobody's attacking me but I'm countering a ton'-dance party every now and again... but really, Tracey? You went from the balcony to the floor to the balcony to the floor to the balcony to the floor? :-P
    That's wonderful, but for all the wrong reasons haha

    How much experience do you have playing Arkham Asylum? Did you have just as hard a time playing that game too?

    I'm a huge Batman fan and I love both games a ton. In fact I think I'm better at the game and tackling its challenges *because* I feel so familiar with the character and the world. There's never a time where I think "Ok, how do I do this?"... it's always "What would Batman Do? *Springs into action*"...
    It makes me sad that you're having so much trouble 'playin Bats' :-/

    The one thing that really puts the pressure on for me is the fact that in dialogue Bats is so incredibly confident in everything he does. Everything is I CAN, or I WILL or HE WON'T GET A CHANCE and I'm just like maaan Bats if you knew how many times I've killed you by walking into a gunfight with my fists you wouldn't have such interminable swagger.

    Good game though. Finished all the side quests and tackling all the Riddler junk now. Those AR tests are causing me to stress way too much.

    He, yeah, sometimes we just can't live up to our heroes in games. I had a friend that was S much better at pulling off Tekken special moves that I really felt lame. I'm just glad that I'm a ninja in real life.

    Interesting (and amusing) take on how knowing the character and having them act in a way that "isn't them" actually makes you feel more detached from the gaming experience. For you as a dedicated batman fan it sounds as though a failure to string together a series of punches in a combat or failing to use stealthy takedowns on your enemies would feel slightly more of a failure than just "oh crap, I messed up."

    I'm curious to know if this felt like it was making the game more frustrating or less fun?

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